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Nicholas Rescher

educator , Philosopher , author , polymath

Nicholas Rescher, German philosopher, author, educator. Achievements include University of Pittsburgh established a substantial biennial Nicholas Rescher prize for contributions to philosophy. Recipient Alexander von Humboldt Humanities prize, 1983, Prix Mercier, 2005; Ford Foundation fellow, 1959-1960, Guggenheim Foundation fellow, 1970-1971.


Rescher, Nicholas was born on July 15, 1928 in Hagen, Westphalia, Germany. Arrived in United States, 1938, naturalized, 1944. Son of Erwin Hans and Meta Anna Rescher.


Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, Queens College, 1949. Doctor of Philosophy, Princeton University, 1951. Doctor of Humane Letters (honorary), Loyola University, Chicago, 1970.

Doctor of Humane Letters (honorary), Lehigh University, 1993. Doctor honoris causa (honorary), University Córdoba, Argentina, 1992. Doctor honoris causa (honorary), University Constance, Germany, 1995.

Doctor of Science (honorary), City University of New York, 1999. Doctor of Philosophy (honorary), Fern University, Hagen, 2001. Dr.rer.pol.hc, Helsinki, 2006.

Doctor of Humane Letters (honorary), Cleveland State University, 2007.


Instructor philosophy Princeton (New Jersey) University, 1951-1952. Mathematician Research and Development Corporation, 1954-1956. Associate professor philosophy Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1957-1961.

Distinguished professor philosophy University Pittsburgh, since 1961, chairman Center for Philosophy of Science, since 1988. Trustee St. Edmunds Academy, Pittsburgh, 1980—1985. Nonresident member Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

Distinguished visiting lecturer, Oxford, Salamanca, Munich, Konstanz. Consultant in field; With United States Marine Corps, 1952-1954.


  • Achievements include University of Pittsburgh established a substantial biennial Nicholas Rescher prize for contributions to philosophy.



In his recent trilogy, A System of Pragmatic Idealism (1992-1993). Rescher aims to combine ideas expounded in more than 50 books and 211 articles that preceded it. The result, a system of pragmatic idealism, endorses traditional idealism's emphasis on the contributions made by our subjectivity to our conception of reality, but does not lose sight of the objective constraints imposed on proper cognitive construction by our given needs and by interests that derive from our circumstances.

The pragmatism defended is, moreover, an objective pragmatism of what works impersonally, rather than a subjective pragmatism of what worksforme or for us. It is applied not only to our factual commitments but also to our value commitments. With regard to values, again, a good measure of objectivity derives from our emplacement in reality, which imposes upon us certain basic projects not constructed or freely chosen, but given.

About these we cannot properly deliberate.

The third volume of the trilogy opposes the rampant nihilism of a ‘post-philosophical’ age. Pluralism is regarded as compatible with a philosophical search for truth. Philosophical views are of course bound to reflect differences in backgrounds of experience and reflection.

Moreover, people are bound to differ constitutionally as well, in ways that will affect what they find plausible or regard as worth pursuing. Universal acceptance and consensus are hence not in the offing, and may never be realized in philosophy. But that does not entail scepticism or relativism, since equal access to the truth is not guaranteed to all by their very constitution and opportunities.

Rescher’s most important contributions to philosophy have prominently involved: the rehabilitation of idealism in general and the coherence theory of truth in particular.

The revival and reconstruction of pragmatism. The development of inconsistency-tolerant logic: and the development of an exponential retardation theory of scientific progress.

In sheer productivity and in the vast scope of his accomplishment, Rescher has few peers in the history of philosophy. From his great energy, intellectual power and restless curiosity has come a system of philosophy unsurpassed in our century.


Secretary general International Union History and Philosophy Science United Nations Educational, 1969—1972. Member of Academy Europaea, Academie International de Philosophie des Sciences, Institute International de Philosophie, C. S. Perice Society (past president), G. W. Leibniz Society of America, Royal Society of Canada, Royal Asiatic Society, American Metaphys. Society, American Catholic Philosophical Association, American Philosophical Association (Aquinas medal 2007).


  • Philosophers & Thinkers

    German idealism and American pragmatism.

  • Other Interests

    Logic; philosophy of science. Leibniz’s philosophy.


Married Dorothy Henle, February 10, 1968. Children: Mark, Owen, Catherine;1 child from previous marriage Elizabeth.

Erwin Hans

Meta Anna Rescher

Dorothy Henle

Mark Rescher

Owen Rescher

Catherine;1 child from previous marriage Elizabeth Rescher